Sure, Severance is a bit of a slow burn at first, and I was initially skeptical once I learned that the Apple TV+ series, created by Dan Erickson, was not an adaptation of the excellent 2018 Ling Ma novel. But this chilling sci-fi thriller really gets riveting by the end of the first season.
Adam Scott plays Mark, an office worker who has voluntarily undergone a procedure that completely separates his work life from his home life. On the outside, he’s a grieving widower still processing the death of his wife with his pregnant sister and corny brother-in-law. At the creepy Lumon Industries, Mark is working in middle management, wondering what happened to his office buddy Petey (Yul Vazquez), and onboarding a rebellious redhead named Helly (Britt Lower), all underneath the stressful gaze of his supervisor Ms. Cobel (an icy Patricia Arquette) and security detail Seth Milchick (Trammell Tillman). His coworkers, corporate lackey Dylan (Zach Cherry) and the melancholic Irving (the always-watchable John Turturro), are just trying to get through the end of the quarter. But Mark soon discovers that there’s something not right about his workplace.
As a reflection on the meaninglessness of so much office work, Severance nails it all, including the irksome Muzak, the bright fluorescent lighting, and the tedious corporate speak — all of which add a sinister foreboding that pays off with a giant cliffhanger at the end of Season 1. —Tomi Obaro
Where to watch: Apple TV+
For a fantasy franchise aimed at a younger audience, Andor shrugs off everything we expect a Star Wars show to be, but still somehow feels right at home in a galaxy far, far away.
Building off of 2016’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Andor tells the backstory of Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), an orphan rescued from the planet Kenari by Maarva Andor (Fiona Shaw). The show borrows the grittiness of the worlds shown in Rogue One, but it happily avoids the central inspirational hero trope so commonly found in Star Wars works.
Andor is the first Star Wars story that attempts to show characters with relatable motivations, adult choices, and adult responsibilities. Most of the characters have JOBS!
There is INTRADEPARTMENTAL CONFLICT! There are MULTIPLE scenes that are MEETINGS that could have been EMAILS! It’s one of the first Star Wars stories to show not only the bureaucratic and systematic brutality of the Empire, but also the expansive banality. To wit: One of the best parts of Andor is a conversation between Dedra Meero (Denise Gough) and Major Partagaz (Anton Lesser) about her career path. The second best part is where Syril Karn (Kyle Soller) loses his job and has to move back home to Coruscant with his mom.
The show is wonderfully acted (see the brief vignette where Luthen Rael, a rebel spy played by Stellan Skarsgård, practices his cover identity), lushly shot, and delightfully SLOW. Viewers will have to wait until Episode 6 for the central action of the story to take place.
Also, the music! It’s not the typical symphonic Star Wars score; the songs are closer to William Orbit than John Williams (NB: the song at the end of Episode 2 fucking SLAPS). By doing away with the tyranny of expectations for a Star Wars story, Andor delivers something more surprising and even fun. —Brandon Wall and Ben King
Where to watch: Disney+
Netflix’s fast-paced series follows the titular Addams family member as she joins Nevermore, a school for outcasts, after being expelled from her last school for dropping piranhas in the pool, naturally. Its eight episodes blend spooky aesthetics, coming-of-age hiccups, a love triangle, and a supernatural murder mystery. (Tim Burton fans, take note: He directed four episodes.) Jenna Ortega’s Wednesday is as constitutionally deadpan as one might hope, more interested in grave-digging and autopsies than making pals. Her prom dance, which the actor choreographed herself, has made the rounds on social media for its magnetic, weird energy (as well as the news that Ortega had COVID-19 during filming). But more fundamental to the show is Ortega’s ability to capture the minutiae of an oddball teen’s inner recalibration. As her single-minded pursuit of a killer creature in the woods starts to hurt the people around her, she realizes that it’s not actually OK to just do whatever she wants. Anyone worried about mawkishness shouldn’t abandon ship, though — Wednesday Addams is basically made of ice. She’s only capable of thawing so much. —Estelle Tang
Where to watch: Netflix
I know what you’re thinking — a scripted show on Paramount+ about an esports team is a hard sell for a lot of people — but hear me out. If you, like me, were heartbroken by the cancellation of Netflix’s American Vandal, this is essentially a loose spiritual sequel. From American Vandal creators Dan Perrault and Tony Yacenda, Players is a mockumentary series about the highs and lows of a League of Legends team trying to win their first championship after years of coming close and fumbling it. As with American Vandal, Players is an excellent example of depicting young, emotionally unavailable men and their problems, no matter how silly they seem on the surface. It’s also an apt commentary on influencer culture as it comes to gaming: the flexing of wealth and fancy cars, corporate ownership of esports, endless Twitter beef, and the growing power of Twitch in the creator economy. You might not care for esports, or even video games for that matter, but the endearing and messy emotional core of Players is impossible to resist. —Cody Corrall
Where to watch: Paramount+
I’m the type of person who tries to guess the killer five minutes into the crime show and watches to the end to see if I am right. I learned pretty early on that I could not do that for this show. The Afterparty follows Detective Danner (Tiffany Haddish), who takes it upon herself to solve the mystery of who killed actor and pop star Xavier (Dave Franco) at the afterparty he threw for his high school reunion. The show features a stellar cast, including Sam Richardson, Zoë Chao, Ben Schwartz, Ilana Glazer, and Jamie Demetriou, who all play former classmates and murder suspects. The writing on this show is clever and smart, and just as I thought I had the story figured out, it immediately changed course, so I was kept on my toes until the very end. I’m super excited for Season 2, as Sam Richardson is reprising his role and the new cast includes Elizabeth Perkins, John Cho, Zach Woods, and Ken Jeong. —Zia Thompson
Where to watch: Apple TV+
A League of Their Own
Abbi Jacobson and Will Graham’s decision to adapt the beloved 1992 Penny Marshall film and make it approximately 1000% gayer was a delightful, insightful choice. The film’s heart and cheer remain intact in this adaptation, while the characters are fully formed and their dramas fully realized. Jacobson plays Carson Shaw, pitcher for the newly minted women’s baseball team the Rockford Peaches. She’s married to a soldier stationed overseas during World War II and has a nascent crush on her teammate, the fashionable Greta (D’Arcy Darden). In the film, the fact that the women’s baseball team doesn’t allow Black women to play is alluded to in an awkward 10-second scene. On the show, it’s a whole storyline. Max (Chanté Adams) is a Black pitcher who won’t let her gender or race stop her from getting on a baseball team. She has support from her best friend Clance (Gbemisola Ikumelo), even though Max’s mother wishes she would work in her hair salon and act like a lady. The celebration of queerness, great party scenes, and a cameo from Rosie O’Donnell make this show an earnest delight. —T.O.
Where to watch: Prime Video
Interview with the Vampire
It’s 2022 and I can’t believe I’m back in my sexy vampire era. The show, which is an adaptation of the 1976 novel, tells the story of the vampires Louis de Pointe du Lac (Jacob Anderson) and Lestat de Lioncourt (Sam Reid) in 20th-century New Orleans, as told to journalist Daniel Molloy (Eric Bogosian) in the present day. What I love most about this adaptation is that it fully leans into the gay undertones present in the 1994 film, which starred Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. In this retelling, Louis and Lestat are explicitly lovers, and the show chronicles the highs and lows of that relationship all while staying true to its source material. In both the movie and show, Louis grapples with what it means to be a vampire. But the show takes it a step further, having him deal with the emotional toll of being inhuman, all while navigating the world as a Black and gay man at a time when it was dangerous to be either, let alone both. The show is, as Louis describes Lestat’s killing techniques, “flamboyant,” but not in a tasteless way. It’s funny, sexy, gory, and at times heartfelt, making it the perfect show to watch and discuss with friends after. More than anything, I am so happy that adult-me can relive the vampire frenzy of my teen years. —Z.T.
Where to watch: AMC+
Welcome to Flatch
I’m not usually a “why is nobody talking about this?!” kind of guy, but Welcome to Flatch is my one exception. Produced by Freaks and Geeks showrunner Paul Feig and developed from the British series This Country, Welcome to Flatch is a delightful mockumentary sitcom about what goes on in a small Midwestern town. It’s charming in its simplicity, but it’s also remarkably funny thanks to its sharp dialogue and its stellar ensemble cast. Mononymic comedian Holmes as Kelly and Sam Straley as “Shrub” are standouts as the show's plucky protagonists: two young cousins with nowhere to go and nothing to do, thinking they’re on top of the world while still knowing nothing about it. I know there’s probably a lot of fatigue around the documentary crew style of television — especially when we currently have the phenomenal Abbott Elementary on the air — but Welcome to Flatch is a real treat in the format. —C.C.
Where to watch: Hulu
Reservation Dogs (Season 2)
This series, centering on a foursome of teenagers living on a Native American reservation in rural Oklahoma, has been hailed as groundbreaking because its cast, crew, and creators are nearly all Indigenous people. But Reservation Dogs is about so much more than representation. It is also wildly inventive television — a character-driven coming-of-age comedy (lots of hijinks!) that explores intergenerational trauma (TW: suicide), all with a dose of magic realism. Season 2 adroitly expands on the first season by focusing more on family and the dynamics therein; I particularly enjoyed the episodes featuring the Dogs’ delightful and vivacious moms. The Season 2 finale, in which our crew truly mourn the loss of their friend Daniel, was tone-perfect. I’m far from the first person to say this, but there’s no other show like this on TV right now. —Mark Yarm
Where to watch: Hulu
Trying (Season 3)
This British comedy entered its third season on Apple TV+ in 2022 and if you haven’t seen it yet, then you should definitely check it out. The show follows young couple Nikki and Jason’s decision to adopt, with the help of their chaotic friends, family, and a quirky social worker. As well as being genuinely laugh-out-loud funny, Trying also shines a realistic and no-holds-barred light onto the reality of adopting in the UK, which lends itself to moments that will make you audibly sob. As somebody with firsthand experience of fostering and adoption, Trying gets my seal of approval for perfectly striking the all-important balance between comedy and realism. —Stephanie Soteriou
Where to watch: Apple TV+
Hacks (Season 2)
Sometimes I wish the powers that be in Hollywood would call a moratorium on television series about show business. Haven’t we skewered the entertainment-industrial complex enough? Get a new shtick already! But for Hacks, I’m willing to make an exception. The series, which is about the love-hate relationship between veteran Las Vegas stand-up comedian Deborah Vance (Jean Smart) and twentysomething TV writer Ava Daniels (Hannah Einbinder), is sharp and funny and often very touching. Over the course of Season 2, we get to see the women’s friendship deepen in meaningful ways as they take Deborah’s act on the road — and out to sea for a hilarious episode aboard a lesbian cruise ship. But don’t worry, they’re still cruel to each other! Come for the zingers, stay for Smart’s deservedly Emmy-winning performance. —M.Y.
Where to watch: HBO Max
Abbott Elementary (Season 2)
Watching Abbott Elementary is like running into your beloved fourth-grade teacher at the supermarket, getting a cup of coffee and reminiscing about old times, and finally getting confirmation that she thought that kid was a total pain in the ass, too. The sitcom, which broke viewership records for ABC with its season premiere, is already beloved for its gentle but relatable workplace drama, well-drawn characters, and super adorable (not to mention hilarious) kids. The whole cast — which includes creator and BuzzFeed alum Quinta Brunson as indefatigably cheery second-grade teacher Janine Teagues, Sheryl Lee Ralph as regal longtimer Barbara Howard, and Tyler James Williams as the always-bemused Gregory Eddie — is clearly having the time of their life. For bringing us a reliably comforting 22 minutes of TV each week, that’s the least they deserve. —E.T.
Where to watch: ABC and Hulu
P-Valley (Season 2)
It was a long but worthwhile wait to get Season 2 of this Katori Hall Starz melodrama, based on the Pulitzer-winning play Pussy Valley. The writers wisely widen the expanse of The Pynk and focus on characters other than the inscrutable (and annoying) Autumn Night (Elarica Johnson), who, at the end of last season, bought the strip club with cash she stole from her ex-husband, saving it from being demolished and turned into a casino. But Autumn still has some tricks up her sleeve and a feud with former owner Uncle Clifford (Nicco Annan), who now has a minority stake in the club. We learn a lot more about Keyshawn (Shannon Thornton) and her abusive relationship with her partner Derek (Jordan M. Cox) in one of the more vivid and heartbreaking depictions of domestic violence I’ve seen on TV. New strippers also join The Pynk, threatening star Mercedes (Brandee Evans). But it’s really the long-simmering romance between Uncle Clifford and Lil Murda (J. Alphonse Nicholson), who goes on tour with Keyshawn and an old friend from prison, that continues to delight. —T.O.
Where to watch: Starz or Hulu with a Starz add-on
What We Do in the Shadows (Season 4)
This season, the world of these lovable, blood-sucking Staten Island vampires expands — and to great effect. Laszlo (Matt Berry) is now a father figure to “The Boy” (Mark Proksch), the creature that crawled out of former energy vampire Colin Robinson’s dead body. Nadja (Natasia Demetriou) has opened up a vampire nightclub, Nandor (Kayvan Novak) is about to get married, and Guillermo (Harvey Guillén) has a boyfriend for the first time. Injecting the series with new workplace challenges, Laszlo as a dad, and Nadja as a nightclub owner gives this much-loved series even more kinetic, hilarious energy. And there’s a great spoof episode of The Property Brothers, featuring Lazlo delivering this TikTok famous line: “You really are the most devious bahstard in New York Citayy!” —T.O.
Where to watch: FX and Hulu
Industry (Season 2)
This cult HBO-BBC series really gained traction in Season 2 and for good reason. We get more insight into the backgrounds of the Gen Z financiers at the fictional London investment bank Pierpoint even as they (mainly Harper) continue their self-interested machinations. Harper (Myha’la Herrold) has her targets set on getting idiosyncratic billionaire Jesse Bloom (Jay Duplass) as a client while also trying to find her prodigal twin brother, who she believes is in Berlin. Yasmin (Marisa Abela) begins to grapple with her wealthy background and the sins of her father, all while mulling a move to private wealth management as she is intrigued by an older woman who works there. Robert (Harry Lawtey) is sober now and figuring out how to handle Harper’s erstwhile client Nicole (Sarah Parish), a brassy newly monied woman with a predilection for sexually assaulting young hires at the firm. And Gus (David Jonsson), who left the bank in Season 1, has dyed his hair blue and is considering a life of politics. We also get to know Harper’s boss Eric (Ken Leung) a lot better this season and witness the terrors of corporate extinction firsthand.
There are some great episodes set outside the confines of the Pierpoint office, like a hunting trip to Wales and a weekend out in Berlin. But ultimately what makes Industry so much more interesting than other shows about the evil rich currently on TV (yes, even Succession, which Industry alludes to with a winking Kendall Roy joke) is its incredibly nuanced depictions of the women and people of color involved in this world. They are just as venial and self-involved as everyone else, while also experiencing pervasive casual racism and sexism. Industry doesn’t shy away from those truths and seeming contradictions; everyone is implicated and it makes for gripping TV. —T.O.
Where to watch: HBO and HBO Max
The White Lotus (Season 2)
I had the sophomore jitters ahead of watching Season 2 of The White Lotus. The first season of this murder-y drama was such a home run that I worried its second would lose some of the spark. Not so! Set in Sicily this time around, The White Lotus easily fulfilled my every wish. Mike White, who created and wrote the series, does another top-notch job of setting up uneasy dynamics among louche folks with too much money. Jennifer Coolidge is back at the luxury resort after stealing the show last season, plying her signature whine to great effect as the filthy rich Tanya McQuoid, whose husband’s neglect makes her even more pathetically dependent than usual. Tanya’s assistant Portia (Haley Lu Richardson) has set us up for next Halloween with her pitch-perfectly unfortunate Gen Z fits. Michael Imperioli is almost bafflingly good as serial cheater Dominic Di Grasso, while Aubrey Plaza’s Harper is dry irritability personified. White and the cast take these characters further than the types they represent, enlivening their antics with snappy dialogue, absolutely no self-awareness whatsoever, and liberal lashings of humor. Plus, there are sooooo many butts. —E.T.
Where to watch: HBO and HBO Max ●
Corrections: Ken Leung's name was misstated in an earlier version of this post. An earlier version of this post misspelled two characters' names and misstated what network What We Do in The Shadows appears on.